After just over three weeks in the studio in New York, Evanescence's Amy Lee says she feels "like I'm making the best album of my life."
"I know that seems weird to say, but I wouldn't be here in the studio making another record if I didn't think it was going to be better than anything I've ever done," Lee -- who came to fame with Evanescence's seven-times platinum 2003 debut "Fallen" and continued with 2006's double-platinum "The Open Door" -- tells Billboard.com. "I feel like so much has already happened. I don't even know where to begin to try to describe it...'cause it's just so many things at once. I'm really excited."
Lee began writing for the as-yet untitled album -- which is due for a fall release, with a first single out in the summer and a tour to follow -- more than a year ago, then accelerated the process when she began working with percussionist and producer Will "Science" Hunt (not to be confused with Evanescence drummer Will Hunt), who's been her chief collaborator on the new songs. The result, Lee says, is "a lot of electronic influence -- industrial is a better word for it," but she promises it's not going to be a wholesale reinvention of the Evanescence sound.
"It wouldn't be an Evanescence album if it didn't sound somewhat like Evanescence," explains Lee, who's incorporating the harp, which she learned to play between albums, in several of the new songs. "I feel like our band has always had programming and inspirations from Bjork and Depeche Mode and Massive Attack and that kind of thing. It's not like we're making one of those records; it's just, like, that is playing a bigger role in the sound of Evanescence this time. Those little nuances and hints come in in ways that are cool. The sound that we're going for as a group is to fuse synthetic instruments with organic instruments and create something that sounds like a whole new place. It just sounds larger than life."
Lee says the group -- which also includes guitarist Terry Balsamo and bassist Tim McCord -- and producer Steve Lillywhite are currently recording about 16 songs and is "still working and...finishing writing here and there. Some of them aren't finished lyric-wise or writing-wise, but I really feel like it's mostly there." Some of the songs, Lee acknowledges, are compositions for potential film projects that weren't used.
Lee confesses to being a bit apprehensive after the long gap since "The Open Door," but she says a pair of one-off shows during November in New York and Brazil gave her confidence that Evanescence's following is still intact. "I was really nervous 'cause it had been so long," she says, "but it was amazing to see how many fans there still are that are waiting for us after all this time. It's really inspiring, and it makes me excited to show them how much we've grown."
Lee is, not surprisingly, less excited to talk about We Are The Fallen, the group formed by Evanescence co-founder Ben Lee and other former members -- John LeCompt and Rocky Gray -- whose debut album comes out in May. "It just doesn't have anything to do with me or Evanescence," she notes. "The only thing that bothers me about it, really, is I keep hearing...about 'the original members.' The only original members of Evanescence are me and Ben; John and Rocky came into the band after we'd already recorded "Fallen," so there's a lot of years there...that didn't include anybody but Ben and I. Other than that, I don't have an opinion or anything to say about it."